My maternal granfather is Youssef Mohamed Abou Youssef.
The Abou Youssef Family are originally from North West Africa (Morocco? مغاربة), but settled in Alexandria, Egypt centuries ago. The name Abou in the family name was used by families of Moroccoan origin (e.g. Abou Hussein, ...etc.).
This particular branch of Abou Youssef were from Moharram Bey محرم بك district in Alexandria. Other Abou Youssefs lived in the Anfoushi الأنفوشي district of Alexandria. There is an apocryphal story in the family claiming that they are from a village called Dayrout ديروط near Rosetta رشيد.
Alexandria Contracting Company
Youssef Abou Youssef was a construction contractor, and co-founded the Alexandria Contracting Company, with his younger brothers: Mohamed, Mahmoud, and Abdel Aziz. As was common then, the sisters were excluded from the company. Youssef and Mahmoud staying to manage the Alexandria operations, while Mohamed and Abdel Aziz went to Cairo to manage the operations there.
This company prospered for a while, and built several famous buildings and projects in Alexandria, including:
- Alexandria Stadium
- Sameh Mousa Apartment Building عمارة سامح موسى in Stanley
- Several other construction works.
This company was, sadly, nationalized in the early 1960's (under Gamal Abdel Nasser in the post 1952 revolution era) soon after my grandfather's death in a car accident in 1961.
Agami Abou Youssef
The brothers also purchased a large plot of land West of down town Alexandria, which is today called Agamy Abou Youssef عجمي أبو يوسف, and is 18.5 Kilometers west of downtown Alexandria. It was purchased for the sum of 200 Egyptian Pounds (all of 40 feddans!). Another 200 Egyptian Pounds were spent to have an unpaved road go from the Asphalt Alexandria-Matrouh road to this land, a fortune in those times.
Me, my brother and cousins have lots of childhood memories from there, because my aunts and uncle and other relatives used to spend the summers there with my grandmother, Zeinab Ali Abou Youssef. We used to fish, swim, hunt birds with air rifles (BB guns) as well as more conventional methods, such as nets and traps (Fakhkh فخ), we used to fool around with lizards, scorpions and even snakes! Two of my cousins were bitten by scorpions on two different occasions, causing them a fever for a night or two. We also used to shoot stones using slings, as the local Bedouin taught us. This is like the Biblical story of how David slayed Goliath.
Abou Youssef Farm near Edfina
The four brothers also had a farm east of Edfina, a bit east of a place called Minyet El Morshedi منية المرشدي, and presently known as 'Ezbet Abou Youssef عزبة أبو يوسف.
There was a bee hive operation, and Abou Youssef Honey was sold for years from that farm. There was also a large orange orchard, interspersed with American Pecan Trees. There were date palm trees (Zaghloul variety بلح زغلول) along side that orchard. There were also a pear orchard, a chicken raising operation, beef operation, and at one point, a fish farm (with Carp, Tilapia, Mullet and Cat fish in it).